While exposing the greed and corruption of corporate Australia, the labour movement also needs to wage a serious campaign to defend jobs. We can not just stand by and let the bosses drive down our living conditions and devastate our lives. We must fight to defend every job. Anything less is accepting that it should be workers and not employers that should pay for the crisis.
At the moment most union leaders support bail out packages and government support for companies who threaten to sack workers or close their doors. This is the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet as we are leaving the companies in the hands of the people who created the problem.
A much better solution is to defend every job with industrial action. If a boss says they can no longer afford to run a company, unions should demand that the company open the books to show where all the profits have gone. Companies threatening to close up or move off-shore should be occupied by the workers. Trade unions should work collectively to ensure that no machinery or equipment is moved.
Rather than giving companies more tax payer funded hand outs, failing companies should be nationalised to prevent job losses or cuts to wages and conditions. Publicly owned industries can be reorganised to meet social needs. For example, car factories could be retooled to build trains and trams or wind turbines and solar panels needed to tackle climate change.
Allowing our workplaces to be run by greedy bosses who are only interested in profits is no way to organise society. We need a democratic and rational economic plan designed to meet people’s needs.
As capitalism is proving its bankruptcy, the labour movement needs to rediscover the ideas of socialism. The urgent task at hand for trade unions and community groups is to develop a militant strategy based on socialist policies to ensure that jobs are protected and that workers are not made to pay for a crisis that they did not create.